Search begins for Ireland’s top student entrepreneurs

This is the 43rd year of Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards. The competition is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students from third-level institutions across Ireland.

Third-level students nationwide who have an innovative business idea with commercial potential are invited to apply for Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards competition 2024.

Enterprise Ireland’s Student Entrepreneur Awards, which are co-sponsored by Cruickshank, Grant Thornton and the Local Enterprise Offices, aim to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs from all academic disciplines to explore starting their own business. 

“The competition provides a first step for business success, and I would encourage any third-level student with an innovative idea to enter now to kickstart your entrepreneurial journey”

Ten finalists will be selected to compete for several awards, including the Cruickshank High Achieving Merit Award, the Grant Thornton High Achieving Merit Award and the Local Enterprise Office High Achieving Merit award. 

The overall winner of the Student Entrepreneur Awards competition will receive a prize of €10,000 and mentoring from Enterprise Ireland to support the development of their products and explore new market opportunities. The other award winners will also receive expert advice and mentoring support from Enterprise Ireland, in addition to sponsorship to help them bring their entrepreneurial ideas to life.

Entrepreneurial ambition

“Each year, the Student Entrepreneur Awards attract high-quality entries which reflect the calibre of our third-level institutions, our entrepreneurial students, and their academic leaders,” said Richard Murphy, manager of the Local Enterprise Offices Support, Policy & Co-ordination Unit at Enterprise Ireland.

“As the competition enters its 43rd year, we continue to see incredible innovations from a variety of sectors including sustainability, healthcare and consumer goods and many previous participants have developed successful businesses both in Ireland and internationally.

“The Student Entrepreneur Awards provide the ideal opportunity for students to explore the viability of their business concepts and get support from experienced mentors to make their business idea a reality. The competition provides a first step for business success, and I would encourage any third-level student with an innovative idea to enter now to kickstart your entrepreneurial journey. 

Opening doors

University College Cork student Emma Coffey, founder of FinalBend won Enterprise Ireland’s 2023 Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Inspired by Emma’s love of athletics, the Cork-based company provides affordable, sustainable, athletic clothing.

“I am incredibly honoured to have been named the Student Entrepreneur of the Year, a recognition that has opened numerous doors for both myself and my company, FinalBend,” said Coffey.

“The experience I gained from the process of applying to the competition, preparing business plans and pitches and finally presenting my business to the panel of judges was invaluable. The journey of FinalBend is just beginning, and I am eager to see how far we can go, fuelled by the support and recognition from the Student Enterprise Awards.”

The GoPlugable team from Dundalk Institute of Technology and Queen’s University, Belfast won the Local Enterprise Office High Achieving Merit Award in 2023. The company is creating a marketplace for private Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers by connecting home EV chargers in a common platform where EV users can share access to their home chargers with other users.

University of Limerick students from Ablatepure, which has developed a medical device that can be used as part of a new breast cancer treatment method, enabling greater cosmetic outcomes for patients, and Trinity College students from MicroDoc, which automates medical paperwork for doctors and their administrative staff, were also among the award winners for 2023.

Main image: Emma Coffey from FinalBend, winner of the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur Awards 2023

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